Why aren't millennials buying houses? They can't afford it.

When the economy bounced back, millennial salary prospects didn't.

Have you seen this guy?

Memes from here and here.


Friends, meet "Old Economy Steve."

On the Internet, Steve has become the judgmental, clueless baby-boomer embodiment of millennials' worst money-related frustrations.

Who is he, exactly? Well, Old Economy Steve knew how to pull himself up by his bootstraps. He graduated from college without student debt, immediately got a high-paying job, and plans to retire with a pension. He just can't understand why those lazy millennials are living with their parents and still unemployed. (Spoiler: Old Economy Steve is kind of a jerk.)

Of course, Old Economy Steve is really just the fictionalized version of millennial financial anxieties. (And, by the way, it seems like the real "Steve" in the photo is actually a down-to-earth guy). I'd like to think most boomers are a little more compassionate toward us young folk than he is, too, but his meme definitely reflects the discomfort that many millennials have with their money situations right now.

Well, then. Thanks, Google.

What do I mean by “millennial money situations?"

You've heard it all before, so sing along if you know the words: Millennials aren't buying houses, they're not buying cars, they're not saving for retirement, and sometimes they're not even moving out of their parents' basements.

Is all of this because millennials are lazy? Entitled? Coddled? Snake people? Poor planners?

Not quite. A lot of folks would argue that it's because millennials have no money (check out that point of view in an article from the New York Times earlier this year). Here are a few truth bombs that might explain what's going on:

1. Millennial wages aren't just frozen — they're actually shrinking.

Many millennials were either in college or about to graduate when the recession hit hard. Lots of employees across the U.S. were let go — not exactly the best economic climate when you're looking for your first job.

And while the economy bounced back, their salary prospects did not. As The Atlantic pointed out last year, average wages for young people have fallen by 10% in many industries since 2007. Add that to the fact that many millennials live in big cities with extremely high rents and high costs of living because that's where the jobs are.

Just to put it in perspective, the average male student graduating from college in 1979 made an hourly wage of $19.97 (adjusted for inflation). For 2010 graduates, the average hourly wage was $21.77 — down almost a dollar from 2000. And female graduates make even less than that. You can point that out to them when they ask why you're not planning on buying a house in your 20s.

So we're not getting paid as much as previous generations of young adults were getting paid, we live in places where it's not really feasible to buy a home, and of course…

2. Student loans eat up a hefty chunk of whatever income millennials have left.

The average student loan debt for the class of 2011 was $26,600. Most of those students are living under the shadow of that debt for years, sometimes even decades.

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Say hello to Sallie Mae (she's on the left.)

Experts posit that millennials are less likely to be homeowners than previous generations mostly because all of their cash is going toward paying off their debt. Most are unable to save.

But there's one more piece of information that might surprise you about millennials' finances:

3. We're finding ways to fix the problem.

I'm going to speak for my generation for a second here: Just because we're young, it doesn't mean we're lazy. We haven't given up yet. In fact, a lot of us are finding some really creative solutions to cope with the changing economy.

Like what? Like tiny houses. These little homes are inexpensive, energy-efficient, and quickly becoming a trend. And in the future, we might even see apartment-like buildings made of mobile “smart homes."

Tiny homes! Image from Guillaume Dutilh on Wikimedia Commons.

We're also being smarter about our health care costs, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act. The uninsured rate for young folks is lower now than it's been since before 1997.

And we're putting pressure on our lawmakers to get real about paralyzing student loans. There's no reason interest rates on student debt should be so high, and some elected representatives and candidates are speaking up about it.

So, lazy? Entitled? Coddled? Snake people? Poor planners? Not quite.

Unable to keep their heads above water? That seems more like it. Admittedly, there's a lot of systemic work still to be done for millennials and their financial security. I'm in the thick of it with all the rest of you.

But there's also a lot that we're already doing — because just like every other generation, we want control over our futures.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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